How Gentrification Accelerated
The initial seeds of gentrification date back several decades in some communities. In fact, a British sociologist first coined the term “gentrification” in 1963.
Gentrification particularly accelerated, though, in recent years as growing numbers of Americans opted to pursue urban lifestyles. The gentrification rate, or share of eligible lower-income tracts experiencing gentrification, was 20 percent for the period following the 2000 Census, more than double the rate of the 1990s. Rates increased in 39 of the 50 cities reviewed.
Some cities experienced rapid gentrification after decades of little or no economic growth. In the District of Columbia, for example, 54 neighborhoods were found to have gentrified since 2000. Back in the 1990s, just five neighborhoods had gentrified in a decade when the city was dubbed the nation’s “murder capital.”
Other neighborhoods began their transition decades ago. In San Francisco, for instance, few tracts were eligible to gentrify by 2000 as much of the city’s housing stock had already increased in price.
It’s important to note that Census Bureau estimates provide only snapshots of different times. So, depending on when a neighborhood gentrified, it may or may not be reflected in data over a 10-year period.
Characteristics of Gentrifying Neighborhoods
Distinct differences emerge between neighborhoods that gentrified and those that haven’t. Neighborhoods gentrifying since 2000 recorded population increases and became whiter, with the share of non-Hispanic white residents increasing an average of 4.3 percentage points. Meanwhile, lower-income neighborhoods that failed to gentrify experienced slight population losses and saw the concentration of minorities increase. They have also experienced different economic fates: Average poverty rates climbed nearly 7 percent in already lower-income tracts that didn’t gentrify, while dropping slightly in gentrifying neighborhoods.
More educated, more income and more urbanize.